One of the best features of the Oculus Quest 2 is that it can be manually paired to your gaming PC via USB to play heavier VR games that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to run on the headset as standard. Which is great if you want a way to play games like Half-life: Alyx, but the obvious downside is that you’re now physically tied to a PC – so much because of the wireless freedom that the Quest 2 advertises.
Fortunately, developers have already discovered the seemingly impossible: how to run system intensive titles on your PC and stream the visual feed to your VR device while syncing all your movements over Wi-Fi. It gives you the best of both worlds: you can play the games you want without being connected to your computer with a cable.
Buy a connection cable
While this is an instruction to experience VR wirelessly, you’ll need a wire to get started. Oculus sells an expensive 5-meter cable for about $ 80, but it’s made for people who really want to use the Quest 2 in wired mode. There are other cheaper alternatives, such as Anker’s 3-foot USB-C to USB Type-A 3.0 cable, which costs about $ 20 and gets the job done.
Many USB cables that come with modern Android phones will probably work too. And the cable doesn’t have to be long – we’re just doing some basic data transfer here. Unfortunately, the USB-C cable that Oculus includes with every Quest 2 didn’t work for this process when I tried it. It’s just to charge the headset.
Enable developer settings
If you want to load files on your Quest 2, you need a developer account. Fortunately, it’s easy to do, but it’s a strange process meant to be used by real developers.
Go to this page and log into your Facebook account in your browser of choice. Make sure to sign in to the same Facebook account you used to sign in to your Quest 2.
- The next part of the process is to name your ‘organization’. You can call it whatever you want. You can find a direct link to this page here in case you get lost.
- With those two steps out of the way, open your Oculus mobile app (iOS or Android) and sign in with the same Facebook account. Then navigate to the “Settings” pane by clicking on it in the lower right corner of the app window.
- On the next page, click on ‘Oculus Quest 2’ to the right below your name, and a few more options will be expanded from within. Click on “More settings”
- Once there, tap on “Developer Mode” and enable it
Install the Quest 2 driver for your PC
The next few steps pave the way for software sideloading on the Quest 2 headset, a feature usually reserved for developers. If you are using a Windows PC, you will need to install ADB drivers to make your PC write to the headset; according to the Oculus site, macOS and Linux systems do not require a driver.
Download the software linked here, hosted by Oculus. (Just check the box to indicate that you agree to the terms of the license – you can read it if you like – and click ‘Download’.)
- Extract the contents of the folder after it is downloaded. Then right click on the item named “android_winusb.inf” and select “Install”.
Buy the Virtual Desktop app for Quest
With the Virtual Desktop app you can access your PC through the lens of a VR headset. You can use it for games, as we will do, but you can also watch movies that you have stored on your PC in different virtual environments. There is a Quest-specific version of the app you can buy here for $ 20. (Make sure under the purchase button it says it is compatible with Quest.)
Install it on the headset after purchase. We will return to this app shortly, but just a few more steps for now.
Connect the Quest 2 to your PC
Connect your Quest 2 via the side-mounted USB-C port to the fastest available USB port on your PC. If you’ve done everything correctly so far, you’ll see a message in the headset asking if you want to allow USB debugging. Let it go on.
Download and install SideQuest on your PC
SideQuest is a free app and storefront for experiences that can be loaded onto your headset. For the purposes of this how-to, you are just going to use it to apply a necessary patch to the Virtual Desktop app that I just suggested you buy and install on your Quest 2 headset.
Go here to find the correct installer for your operating system (I used the Windows 10 version for this how-to) and download it
- When installation is complete, run SideQuest
- At this point, your headset should show as connected in the top left corner of the SideQuest app on your PC with a green balloon. If it doesn’t show as connected, check your headset display for a prompt. It may wait for you to allow your PC to access and change the Quest 2’s file system.
Sideload the Virtual Desktop VR Patch for Quest 2
In SideQuest, type “virtual desktop” in the search bar. The result you are looking for is called ‘Virtual Desktop VR Patch’. This is the necessary key to fool your computer into thinking your Quest 2 is a wired headset.
- With your Quest 2 connected to your computer, click the “Install to headset” button in SideQuest, just below the search bar in the app. The process should be pretty tough and only take a few seconds.
Download Virtual Desktop Streamer
There is another free application to download: Virtual Desktop Streamer. Created by the same people who created the Virtual Desktop app you bought on the Quest 2, this app easily streams PC content to your headset over Wi-Fi.
- After this app has been downloaded and installed, you will need to enter your Oculus username in the Streamer window
- If you don’t know right away, you can find it by opening the Oculus app on your mobile, navigating to ‘Settings’ and then tapping the area that shows your name and email address. The name that appears next to your avatar is your username.
- Once that’s entered, click on ‘Save’
- That is the last step! But remember, it is crucial to have the Virtual Desktop Streamer app open for your headset to communicate with your PC.
Open Virtual Desktop on your Quest 2
When each step is done correctly, you will see your PC appear in the list of available devices to connect to from the Virtual Desktop app on your Quest 2.
After you connect, the Options button (the equivalent of the Oculus button on the left side of the Oculus Touch controller) is assigned to open the main Virtual Desktop menu, as shown in the image below. Clicking “Games” from there will display any game installed on your PC. You can just boot them all from there and your PC will handle all the hard work.
If you’re not happy with the visual fidelity in each game, you can tweak some settings that affect latency, refresh rate, and more. Note that you are likely to get a clearer, smoother picture if your PC is powerful and your Internet connection is fast. Given its reliance on your Wi-Fi network, your wireless router also plays a huge role in delivering a smooth experience.
Streaming VR via WiFi is certainly not a perfect solution. I have a Wi-Fi 6 ready router and relatively fast internet (235 Mbps down, 19 Mbps up), and I still experience some lag and a slightly blurry picture every now and then. While with enough tweaks to the Virtual Desktop app (disabling Wi-Fi on rarely used tech items never hurts), I think you’ll have a good time.